Settling and traction velocities were measured on optimally preserved tests of larger foraminifera using a settling tube and flume tank. Within larger foraminifera with porcelaneous tests, the peneroplids, Peneroplis antillarum, P. planatus, P. pertusus and Dendritina cf. D. zhengae, are distinguished by low test densities (ca 1·2) that do not change with growth. Buoyancy is high because of low Reynolds numbers and increases in large individuals because of the allometric change of test shape. The fusiform Alveolinella quoyi, with test densities ca 1·6, is characterized by high Reynolds numbers, inducing the weakest buoyancy within porcelaneous larger foraminifera. The highest buoyancy was recorded for the three soritids, Parasorites orbitolitoides, Sorites orbiculus and Amphisorus hemprichii, because of their low test densities (ca 1·25) and the extremely flat, biconcave, plate-like shape. Flat tests, however, reduce traction and entrainment from smooth surfaces. Within hyaline larger foraminiferat, the amphisteginids show thick-lenticular (Amphistegina lobifera, A. radiata) to thin-lenticular tests (A. bicirculata, A. papillosa), influencing buoyancy. Here, high test densities (ca 1·8) decrease with growth in A. lobifera, A. lessonii and A. bicirculata, and remain constant in A. radiata and A. papillosa. Minimum velocities required for entrainment are lower for thick-lenticular tests and higher for thin-lenticular tests. Test densities remain constant with growth in the calcarinid Baculogypsina sphaerulata (ρ ∼ 1·78) and decrease slightly in Calcarina gaudichaudii and Neorotalia calcar (starting at ρ ∼ 1·85), all living under extreme hydrodynamic conditions. Density decreases the most in Baculogypsinoides spinosus (starting at ρ ∼ 1·8), resulting in higher buoyancy through low Reynolds numbers. Traction is promoted in spherical tests of Baculogypsina and Baculogypsinoides. Within nummulitids, the thick-lenticular Palaeonummulites venosus (test density decreasing with size; starting at 1·78) is less buoyant, expressed in high Reynolds numbers, but easily entrained. Thick-lenticular juveniles and extremely flat adults distinguish Operculinella cumingii, Heterostegina depressa and the giant Cycloclypeus carpenteri. Test densities increase during growth, starting from ca 1·6 and attaining a maximum of 1·8. Buoyancy is low in small tests and high in large tests, while entrainment velocities are reduced as the tests flatten. High buoyancy is also a characteristic of the entirely flat tests in Operculina ammonoides (from deeper regions) and Planostegina operculinoides, which is expressed in the lowest Reynolds numbers within larger foraminifera.